Data science is all the rage lately. Harvard Business Review even named it the sexiest job of the 21st century. Even though the term is rapidly gaining mind share, many are still confused about what data science actually is. When you cut through the hype, the core of data science is actually pretty simple: it’s the study of data. What kind of data is being studied, how it is being studied, and what the individual data scientist is looking for all depend on the specific case. Data science is just another field of study using digital methods, putting it firmly under the umbrella of Digital Scholarship.
The number one question I get when talking about digital scholarship, is what exactly that means. How is digital scholarship any different than regular (analog?) scholarship? Does one have to be a technophile in order to consider what they do to qualify as digital work? These sentiments are being echoed around higher education, so its no insignificant problem for those of us who walk around talking about this as something we do. Offering clarity is the key to creating connections, so… here is my take.
Digital scholarship is project-based, collaborative, innovation-prone and embraces new modes and means of dissemination.
The reason we call this “digital” work, is because of how this type of scholarship is done – through, because of and invested in internet and technology-based tools. A key aspect of my proposed definition of Digital Scholarship is that each part needs to be represented in the whole. For example, plenty of science scholarship could be characterized as project-based, and collaborative without necessarily being interested in innovating how or where it is presented to an audience. On the flip side, traditional humanities scholarly works seem to have a lot more ground to cover to meet these criteria, which is why, I’d argue, the digital humanities garnered so much attention quickly and widely in recent years.
Beyond my speculations, here are two specific examples that I believe prove my point. (more…)
The Department of Energy has become the first federal funding agency to release a public access policy under last year’s Office of Science and Technology Policy Directive. Broadly speaking, the newly announced policy will make published research resulting from DOE funds available to the public on the Web. This policy follows a similar, and long-standing policy by the National Institutes of Health. The DOE Public Access Plan is being received with mixed criticism by stakeholders on both sides of the open access debate, evidenced by commentary from Michael Eisen, an OA advocate, and The Scholarly Kitchen, the generally OA-skeptical blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing. Andrea Peterson, for the Washington Post, offers an overview and balanced perspective also.
One source of contention is the mechanism by which access is provided. Rather than directly hosting full text documents, the DOE portal, PAGES (Public Access Gateway for Energy & Science) will contain basic metadata with links to the full text on the publisher’s website when the Version of Record can be made available, or in a repository when the final Version of Record can’t be made available due to the terms of the publication agreement. Much of this is accomplished via the publisher-administered CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States). Critics have argued that CHORUS, itself a controversial topic, tips the scale of control too far towards the publishers, whose profit motive doesn’t always cohere with free and unfettered public access. Yet another point of difference centers on publisher-mandated embargoes, which delay release of the full text for a period of 12 months.
Of course, much remains to be seen as to how the public access policy will actually play out, which makes sense given that this is just the initial announcement. PAGES exists in beta right now and the DOE is inviting user feedback on the system. We should be seeing many more policies similar to this one in the near future as other agencies role out their own public access policies.
Florida State University Libraries offers support and resources for compliance with public access policies through our Office of Scholarly Communication.